A Family-Only Wedding Weekend on a Private Estate with Vineyard Views
This couple spent just four months planning their celebration at a private estate in Santa Ynez Valley, California, which began with a backyard barbecue and culminated in an intimate ceremony and barn reception.
Mindy and Evan met at a dinner party on the beach in Corona Del Mar, California, during the summer of 2017. The pair kept in touch over the years, and when Mindy hosted a Fourth of July party a few seasons later, they reconnected—which is when their romance truly began. In February 2020, Evan booked a weekend trip to Santa Barbara with a few of their close friends, who also happen to be wedding videographers. And while Mindy thought the group would enjoy a quick getaway, Evan had other plans: He completely caught her off guard with a surprise proposal in Montecito. "As a bonus, our friends were able to capture the entire engagement day on their 8mm camera, which is my favorite type of videography, so we now have a keepsake video of our entire day, thanks to them!" Mindy shares.
The couple began planning a destination wedding in the English countryside for 50 of their closest friends and family. But as COVID-19 became more and more worrisome over the next few months, the couple realized they weren't going to be able to travel abroad. "Truth be told, it was a little heartbreaking to come to the decision to pivot and not move forward with the wedding of our dreams in the Cotswolds," Mindy explains. The couple took a step back from planning process to regroup—and even considered postponing the wedding altogether—but in the end, decided that they didn't want to wait to tie the knot.
So, Mindy and Evan invited just 17 of their immediate family members to a private estate in Santa Ynez, California, for an intimate wedding weekend. "We traveled to Santa Ynez Valley on numerous trips and weekend getaways throughout our relationship and loved the idea of sharing this place with everyone we love," Evan says. The couple spent four months working with their wedding planner, Nina Moore, to create a family-only wedding on September 26, 2020. The weekend began with an intimate rehearsal dinner underneath the oak trees in the property's backyard. And on the big day? Mindy and Evan wanted to go all out with the design. "We both wanted it to feel like it wasn't a Plan B wedding," Mindy says. "Making it special, regardless of the state of the world, was of utmost importance, and approaching it as if it were our first choice for a wedding—that was key for us."
Mindy is an interior designer, but she used to own a stationery store, so the paper goods for the wedding were important to her. "I really wanted something textural and totally different for our wedding invitations, even though we only sent out a handful of invitations," she said. She worked with Mirim at Paper & Toys to create hand stitched notes printed using layers of paper, linen, and vellum.
During their rehearsal dinner, Mindy wore a sweet gingham sundress from Heather Taylor x Doên. Evan kept it simple in dark jeans and a short-sleeved button up.
On the Lawn
The couple set out a few lawn games, including corn hole and bocce ball for guests; the kids especially enjoyed blowing bubbles.
Their planner, Nina Moore, helped them curate a backyard-inspired barbecue to kick off the wedding weekend. "We stayed on a private property, so when our families arrived that first day, we wanted everyone to feel like they were a part of the festivities," Mindy says. A long wooden table was paired with canvas director's chairs and topped with a flowing white table runner. Lanterns were scattered throughout the lawn for additional lighting after sunset.
The centerpieces featured vibrant sunflowers and daisies in shades of red, orange, and white. Tall yellow taper candles were placed in black holders to add height to the arrangement; white pillar candles and small tea candles were placed in glass votives.
On the Menu
Each guest found a hand-written menu at their place setting, complete with calligraphy from Blush Type.
Evan's loved ones cooked the entire dinner, which was served family-style. The meal included a green salad, grilled chicken, tri-tip steak, grilled vegetables, baked beans, and garlic bread. They served homemade cookies with ice cream for dessert.
Just Like Mom
The bride ordered a custom wedding dress from Australia, and although it arrived three weeks before the big day, it didn't fit well. She decided to start over, and went shopping at a local store in Newport Beach, California, called A'Maree's—which happens to be where her mom shopped when she was a bride. "It's so fun knowing we both bought our wedding dresses from the same place," Mindy shares. She was thrilled to find a lace off-white dress with a V-neckline and silk slip by Bonnie Young. "It was effortless and easy and the perfect style for our venue," she says.
Mindy wore a veil created by a local seamstress in just two days using a vintage one and some lace from her wedding dress to patch up a few spots and make it uniquely hers. "It felt very special," she says. Mindy held a loose bouquet of flowers in neutral shades tied up in, again, some lace from her wedding dress as the final touch.
Evan went with a custom olive green suit paired with a gray Swiss-dot tie and saddle oxford dress shoes. For a special detail, he opted to have their wedding date stitched inside his collar.
While Mindy and Evan didn't have a traditional bridal party, they asked the ladies of the family to wear white and the men to wear light gray suits from Suit Supply for a cohesive look.
Field of Dreams
The duo shared a first look in a field overlooking the oak trees and vineyards that surrounded the estate. "Initially, I was apprehensive about doing a first look at such a small event, wondering if it might take away from the emotion of walking down the aisle—but it was the complete opposite," Mindy says. "It was the best feeling, and we're so glad we were able to have that time together before the ceremony."
"Even though we had a tiny wedding, I really wanted the ceremony to feel just as special as if we'd had 100 guests," Mindy says, noting that a defined aisle, unique seating, and lush florals were integral to this part of the day. The result? A bevy of benches were set up on the lawn facing a picturesque, asymmetrical flower arrangement at the altar.
Their aisle was lined with textural arrangements punctuated with pops of red. "I love classic design and neutral color palettes in my line of work as an interior designer, but I also love bold colors used in florals, textures represented in beautiful linens, and natural wood tones on furniture—so it was fun to incorporate so many of these elements in our design," Mindy says.
The couple placed a soft white blanket on each of the benches to act as padded seating—something the littlest guests appreciated very much (so cozy!).
Here Comes the Bride
Mindy's stepfather accompanied her down the aisle at the start of the service.
A Religious Service
Evan's brother was ordained by their church so he could officiate the ceremony; he sent them each a separate questionnaire to fill out before the big day to help him personalize the program, but they also incorporated religious elements. "Faith is the foundation of our relationship, and it was really important for us to have that highlighted," Mindy says.
As Evan kissed his bride, guests threw colorful confetti in the air to celebrate.
The Cocktail Hour
The cocktail hour took place on the lawn, in the same area where the rehearsal dinner was held. A masked bartender served signature drink including a smoked old fashioned and a juniper rose-infused gin cocktail from one of the couple's favorite restaurants. Guests also snacked on fish ceviche, wagyu meatballs, and shrimp skewers.
Mindy and Evan love novelty cars, so they selected a MoKe for their big-day ride; they spent a little time taking the kids for rides around the property post-ceremony, but then snuck away to watch the sunset together and take it all in. Evan has some words of wisdom for couples that are planning a wedding through this period of uncertainty: "No matter what your wedding looks like, if you focus on loving one another through the planning, all the coordinating, and stress of adjusting to this situation, things will not feel quite as heavy, and your wedding will turn out exactly the way it was supposed to turn out—perfectly."
Their reception took place in an old barn on the property; candles and lanterns led the way to the entry point.
Lit from Within
One long table was placed inside the barn and tons of bistro lights were strung from the ceiling above. The table was topped with white linens and paired with wooden chairs with rounded backs.
At Each Setting
The place settings featured textured chargers, white plates, and bronze cutlery. A printed menu sat atop each plate, along with name tags for each loved one. Taper candles in blush-and-ivory tones in varying heights were placed in sleek gold holders and scattered throughout the tablescape.
A Chef-Cooked Meal
One of the most important aspects of their wedding? The food. With a smaller guest count, they were able to splurge and hire a local chef from SY Kitchen to cook on-site. The menu included a warm octopus salad, pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and black truffle, and grilled New York steak with roasted potatoes and broccolini. Last but not least, the chef prepared homemade chocolate and vanilla gelato with berries for dessert.
After dinner, each family member stood and shared a few special words for the newlyweds. "Normally a wedding only provides an opportunity for a couple of toasts or speeches from the best man and maid of honor," Evan says, "but this intimate celebration gave everybody a chance to stand and share a thoughtful, loving speech. I cried more in one day than I have in our entire relationship!"
How Sweet It Is
Mindy and Evan's two-tiered cake featured Funfetti layers and vanilla buttercream (the groom's favorite), along with chocolate cake filled with cookies and cream frosting (the bride's preference). The entire confection, made by Lele Patisserie, was frosted with vanilla and embellished with fresh florals.
Photography, Jessica Rose Photography
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Nina Moore
Videography, The Hubs Film
Flowers, Forage Florals
Invitations and Menus, Paper & Toys
Calligraphy, Blush Type
Bride's Gown, Bonnie Young
Bride's Makeup, Gina Brooke
Groomsmen's Attire, Suit Supply
Catering, SY Kitchen
Cake, Lele Patisserie
Rentals, The Tent Merchant; Bright Event Rentals; Found Rentals
Car, MoKe Experience-Solvang
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